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Bizet Woman's Blog
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Charmed Days 07-24-2007 - 02:14 AM
For the past several weeks, I have experienced a sensation that, at present, and for reasons unbeknownst, I seem to be “leading a charmed life.” Everything seems to be “going my way” (to quote the lyrics from one of the songs in the musical Oklahoma) on scales ranging from the minute to the grand. I wonder, “Are my planets in alignment?” Or, might I have a “Spirit Guide working overtime?”

For example, if I return home from a mundane half-day of running errands ranging from buying stamps at the Post Office to getting a steak at the meat market to buying bras at Target, and my husband asks me upon my return home, “How did everything go out there?” my reply is…”Miraculously, there was no one in line at the P.O.; the Porterhouse steaks were not only exceptional-looking but also ‘on sale’ at Von Hansen’s, and when I approached the bra racks at Target, nearly every one I saw was in my size!” How can that be? I have ever really believed in the concept of “luck” before, because from what I have observed in the world around me, most of the things that happen in life are because of one’s own decisions. Do I complete my homework, or smoke pot and listen to Jefferson Airplane records instead? Should I go to college and earn a degree, or move to NYC or LA and join the party scene? Do I report for work on time, or shut off the alarm clock and show up at my job whenever I please? Should I bother to put on a life jacket before getting in the canoe, or just skip it? Shall I eat a peach? And on and on. Our eventual outcome as human beings are, for the most part, a result of the choices we make.

I didn’t strategically show up at the Post Office when I thought others would not. I didn’t stop at the meat market for a steak because I read in an advertisement that they would be “on special,” and why the department store had bras galore in my size for the first time in my life I cannot fathom.

Whatever is causing this, why this is happening….I don’t have a clue but I just want it to go on and on and on. Life is so wonderful this way. A swarm of butterflies accompanying me on my path to the mailbox in the morning to collect the newspaper; my mother handing me a pair or earrings she found at a garage sale for 50 cents that perfectly match my outfit that I just put on; my cousin and I having the same time available so that we can attend the Picasso exhibit at the Walker Art Center together. The wild raspberries are sweeter and (for once!) the creatures are ignoring them, and mosquitoes seem to have gone extinct. When I want to go swimming in the lake the sun is shining, and when I want to sleep late in the morning the sky is muted with clouds, and the tender rain falls.

To whomever or whatever is blessing me with these glorious days of perfection, I am grateful.
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Upcoming Lunch With A President! 06-04-2007 - 06:04 PM
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has always been among my favorite celebrities on earth. I feel that he is among the most brilliant leaders in history. As far as I’m concerned, he could run my country for the rest of my life, and I would be happy. In my opinion, he did a sensational job as President and the years he was in command were among the best in United States history.

I also think he is a terrific speaker. For these reasons, for ages it’s been on my “To Do List” to see him speak in person. So, I’m looking forward to having lunch with him on June 18th. Yes, I will be dining in the “general seating” section in the Minneapolis Convention Center along with thousands of other attendees…but, I am excited about it nonetheless. The “Leadership Luncheon,” as it’s called, is produced by a Canadian company called “The Power Within” that puts on speaking events throughout Canada and the USA. I hope that attending this event will inspire me to pursue activities of this nature more frequently, as (due to my cancer diagnosis in January and tenuous future health status) I have made a vow to myself to “ramp up the fun level” in my life. The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area features many celebrities on speaking tours at various venues, so I’m not going to stall around any more if a noteworthy person I admire is coming to my area who I want to see. I’m going! And, that’s the truth!
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A Freezer Filled with Food by Friends 02-20-2007 - 06:00 PM
There are truly some extraordinary people in the world, who seem to always manage to “step up to the plate” to help others, with seemingly no regard to their own challenges that may be going on. While other people might say, “Gee, I’d like to help…but I’m too busy, or too sick myself, or too encumbered by one thing or another,” these special individuals simply see a need, and then just go ahead and “do it.” They don’t just “talk about” doing it, draw attention to their good deeds, or make a big deal about it…they just do it. My friend, Sharon, who I have known since junior high school, and who still lives in my little hometown, is one of these people. Her thoughtfulness and kindness rise to a level rarely experienced in this day and age.

I was hospitalized for a week at the end of January for a colon resection due to stage 3 colon cancer, which had been diagnosed just ten days earlier. Everything regarding my illness transpired quite fast, and, under the circumstances, I really didn’t have the wherewithal to give consideration to my “early recovery at home” days…so stocking my freezer ahead of time with home-made, ready-to-bake entrees was not among my concerns. Until I began to feel better post-operatively and could cook again, I figured that my husband and I could easily “get by” indulging in canned soups, sandwiches, take-out deli items, and commercially-prepared frozen entrees like lasagna, pot pies, etc., that he could put in the oven, set a timer, and "plate up" for me. Certainly, to my palate, nothing is as tasty (or likely as healthy) as “homemade” food, but after having received a cancer diagnosis “out of the blue,” what I was going to eat after I got home was the least of my worries.

While I was in the hospital, and after I returned home, I received a tremendous outpouring of support from many, many friends and relatives in the form of phone calls, greeting cards and floral deliveries, and every one of these gestures meant a great deal to my husband and me. It seems that I am blessed to have many “angels in human form” in my orbit. But perhaps the most selfless gesture of all took place a couple of days before Valentine’s Day. My Mom phoned me and said excitedly, “Sharon is bringing me to your house tomorrow afternoon to see you!” I hadn’t seen my Mom since my surgery, because she is 81 years old and doesn’t drive anymore outside of her little hometown area…which is over an hour away from my house. I know my Mom was very, very worried about me and I was so glad to hear that Sharon had contacted her, and was sacrificing an afternoon of work (she co-owns a home decorating company) to bring my Mom to see me. Mom said she was bringing a plate of Valentine’s Day decorated cupcakes and cookies, and I told her I’d prepare a pot of coffee, and we would sit at the table and indulge in sweet goodies and have a nice visit.

When the day arrived, I opened the front door to see Mom and Sharon standing on the front deck, alongside a gigantic cooler. It turns out that Sharon had not only prepared several “freezer entrees” and other food items herself, but she had also recruited two of our other female hometown friends/classmates to do so, too. So, with no flashy grand announcement, she simply showed up at my house and loaded my freezer with homemade chow mein casserole, chicken enchiladas, barbequed beef and buns, taco soup, orange bran muffins, chocolate-frosted peanut butter cornflake bars…and more -- prepared with love by those who learned that they have a friend in trouble.

Not only was it great to see my mother, it was also great to see my dear friend. Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer in April of last year, underwent surgery, and only recently completed several months of chemotherapy, followed by many weeks of radiation sessions. The last time I saw her, in November, she was “still bald.” Now her thick-and-spikey salt-and-pepper hair has grown back and she recently has been able to resume working -- meeting with customers, painting walls and hanging paper. She has endured
tough times herself in the last year, yet it seems as though nothing can stop her from giving and giving and giving of herself to others. She is truly an inspiration to me and she always will be. What a gal!
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May Day and a Furbie! 05-01-2006 - 06:35 PM
Especially when you live in an cold climate like that in my home land of Minnesota, “springtime indicators” are particularly welcome and, for me, have always generated much enthusiasm and excitement about the upcoming beautiful summer days.

On May First this year, where I live the weather is cold and rainy and not very inspiring. However, despite the gloomy palor outdoors today, every May Day I get a chuckle recalling the funniest May Day Story ever told to me by my sister-in-law, Amy.

It was 1998, and her son, Jasper, was three years old. Their family had just moved into their new house in a new neighborhood, and Amy decided to make a few May Day Baskets for she and Jasper to deliver to their neighbors. Most homes were empty of their inhabitants on a weekday mid-afternoon, so Amy and Jasper hung the baskets on the door knob. But when they rang the doorbell of the very opulent home right next door, a gentleman answered, and with great expressive excitement and aplomb, he welcomed Amy and the darling little Jasper to step indoors. He gushed and fawned over the child, who silently stared at him and his ornately decorated home with giant blue eyes. The man said to Jasper, “And, I have something for you!” He walked to a closet, opened the door, and, lo and behold, the closet was jam-packed full of boxes of Furbies…the fuzzy electronic “creature” which was such a rage (and for some so disposed, a “collectible”) when they first hit the market. He selected one and handed it to Jasper…who, of course, was happy with his new toy.

Amy was shocked! To receive an $18 Furbie for dropping off a construction-paper container holding a dollar’s worth of candy! This was not her intention, of course. Through the years, the male couple next door have turned out to be wonderful, caring neighbors and friends. I don’t know if they typically distribute Furbies to visiting children on May Day, but, from what Amy tells me….the Martha Stewart-like Halloween “packages” they give to the trick-or-treaters are something else!

Happy May Day To All!
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Swimming With The Fishes 02-19-2006 - 05:32 PM
I’ve heard it said that the corals reefs in the Caribbean Sea along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula are rated second only to those of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I’ve never been to the latter, but from my experience last week snorkeling in the balmy waters of the Caribbean, near Tulum, Mexico, it seems like the reefs there could be “second to none.” I can hardly believe all the beautiful fish I saw. The people I vacationed with, who are very experienced snorkelers, said it was the best experience “swimming with the fishes” that they had ever had anywhere. My body and soul felt so wonderful while traversing the crystal clear ocean waters, with all sorts of marine life thriving around me. The coral and marine flora colors ranged from deep purple to hot orange. The colors of the fishes ranged from glistening pearly white to jet black with neon lavender outlines. I even saw Nemo!

The resort I stayed at, the Eldorado Seaside Suites, was “all-inclusive” and served gourmet meals in which I heartily indulged with reckless abandon. The bars featured six new “cocktail specials” each day and resisting them proved fruitless. I should probably investigate checking into a combined “weight-loss and detox” facility at this point!

I give credit to the Mayan people for doing a very impressive job repairing their resorts after Hurricane Wilma last fall. It was apparent that most of the palm trees and other flora lining the grounds of the Eldorado were new plantings. My hotel room happened to be on the second floor, and a waiter told one of my friends that the storm sent sand to the top of most of the second-floor rooms on the property. My room was absolutely gorgeous and it was impossible to tell that a tropical storm had ravaged it only months earlier. A long pier that was destroyed had not yet been rebuilt, but otherwise structures seemed to be in order.

In terms of hospitality and service that you would expect at a top-notch facility, there are some little refinements that I believe will come with time. The resorts in that region 60 miles south of Cancun are mostly new…many just a year or two old. Other cultures are decades if not centuries ahead of the Mayans in the hospitality industry. The Mayans are learning and they are trying very hard, in my opinion, bless their sweet hearts. All the staff I encountered were very personable and I felt they tried their very best to provide a memorable vacation experience for their guests.

I’m so happy that I had a satisfying trip to the tropics. Now, it’s “back to reality” for me, staying indoors in close proximity to a blazing fireplace as the temperatures drop to sub-zero all around me in these Minnesota hinterlands. I viewed a flock of eight wild turkeys traipsing through my yard this morning, looking deceptively plump with their feathers all fluffed up in an attempt to survive the cold. All climates have their own miracles of nature, that’s for certain. But, I have to make a point to get back to swimming with the fishes again soon, somewhere.
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The Benefits of Singing, Even to Dogs 02-05-2006 - 05:30 PM
I believe the average person sings way too seldom. I feel that singing is beneficial to one’s health. It’s a mental tonic in the sense of being a mood elevator, and I think the lungs benefit from the exercise.

While I take a leisurely soak in the bathtub, I like to sing Patsy Cline songs. The dog seemed to particularly enjoy this, because she would lie nearby even though my performance would likely drive any human being out of the house. Ever since the dog has departed this earth, I don’t sing in the tub because I find I don’t enjoy it without an appreciative canine audience.

When I was in high school, participating in vocal music was among my favorite extra-curricular activities. I was in Mixed Chorus, Select Choir, and I participated in music contests in Girls Triple Trio. I’ve never had a pretty solo voice, but I could carry a tune and blend with others. In my little school, everyone involved in vocal music had a 20-minute weekly private lesson with our choir director, Mrs. Harrington, during which she played the piano and her student sang scales and performed other vocal exercises. I always felt invigorated after these short sessions. Besides my vocal pursuits in school, during my senior year I also played guitar and sang duets with my friend Sue to entertain parishioners at the Saturday evening “Guitar Mass” which started in my little town in 1970. Sue had a lovely soprano voice and carried the tune, and I sang alto and/or harmonized. It was really fun for the two of us to get together and rehearse our selections in the “rec room” of my parents’ house. We purchased a few music books and picked out sort of “folk-rock spirituals” to perform. I think the parishioners appreciated the break from the old standards with the blaring organ accompaniment.

I didn’t join any extra-curricular vocal music groups in college, but I did play lead roles in a couple of musicals. (But that was “comedic singing” which can involve cheating in the form of “talking” some of the lyrics.) Upon occasion during my college years, at the bequest of my roommates, I played Bob Dylan, Donovan, Melanie, and Neil Young songs on my guitar and led the group singing. A few years after college, I gave my guitar to my Mom to sell at a garage sale, because it was just collecting dust. In the decades since, my singing time has decreased gradually until I got to the point, several years ago, that I accepted the sad fact that I can barely carry a tune at all anymore! If I’m driving in my car and a good song comes on the radio and I try to sing along, I sound terrible. I have no range whatsoever.

I have come to the conclusion that, for us “amateurs” who simply enjoy singing “just for the fun of it“…you need to keep it up, or what little vocal skills you have may descend into the gutter. Therefore, when the neighbor’s Chocolate Lab decides to join me on my daily walk, I sing show tunes to him, or sometimes Top 40 selections, or old T Rex or Ramones or Billy Idol songs. (I live on a gravel road surrounded by hobby farms with grazing horses in the “yards” so no human beings are around to hear me.) My canine buddy, Jay-Jay, seems to like my voice. Or, at least it doesn’t make him run off…or attempt to join in, in order to drown me out.
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Jazzed About Figure Skating! 01-13-2006 - 06:29 PM
Anyone who knows me well will tell you there are two things that I absolutely live for:

  • The major league baseball playoffs, followed by the World Series every October
  • The Olympic Figure Skating Championships, and the preliminary competitions leading to it, every four years

Of the two, Olympic Figure Skating is the most critical “must see” because it occurs so seldom. I can still remember nearly every significant moment…when Sarah Hughes won the Ladies Gold Medal four years ago; Ilya Kulik’s shining moment; Gordeeyva and Grinkov (Gold Medalists twice, in pairs), Nancy Kerrigan’s upset by the Russian orphan, Oksana Bayul, Brian Boitano, Katarina Witt…I savor the memories of their ultimate achievement in their sport. The US Nationals are taking place right now, and will serve as the final piece of the selection process for the US team. The Olympics are only a little over a month away! Yay!

In non-Olympic years, I still watch all amateur figure skating competitions that are televised. One time a few years ago, the World Championships were in Minneapolis, and I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the Men’s Short Program. (A friend of mine had done some volunteer work for the hosting committee, and so she received two free tickets in the VIP section, and invited me to attend.) The section we were in was where all the figure skating celebrities were sitting…former competitors turned pro, coaches, etc. Russian Gold Medalist, Viktor Petrenko, was sitting in the row behind us! It was truly a great afternoon and one that I will always remember.

A lot of people have dreams about flying. I have dreams that I am skating - performing the spins, jumps and tricks in an effortless manner…gliding weightlessly across the ice, never falling, never failing to execute the triple jump. I used to skate nearly every winter day while growing up, but in my little hometown there weren’t any opportunities for skating lessons. Anyway, I probably would not have excelled even with instruction, since I am not athletically gifted. So, these days I enjoy skating only in my dreams - pleasurable and magical moments that I am grateful to experience in my altered state of slumber.
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Thoughts About Eggs 01-09-2006 - 05:40 PM
I like eating eggs. Eggs are good, easy, inexpensive and low-maintenance. They rarely go bad. Here are just some of the many ways I enjoy eggs:

  • Egg salad sandwich
  • Fried egg sandwich, with caramelized onion slices & mayonnaise
  • Omelet, with any variety of add-ins like ham, mushrooms
  • Scrambled, accompanied with a toasted English muffin and jam
  • Scrambled, with onions and peppers, in a tortilla topped with cheese and salsa
  • Hard-boiled, added to tuna salad
  • Deviled
  • Poached on whole-wheat toast
  • Quiche, of many varieties
  • Frittata
  • Egg drop soup

One food item I have never sampled is pickled eggs. They must be viewed as a delicacy, because a jar of them costs over $6.00! Even though I enjoy pickled herring and pickled cucumbers and pickled vegetables of nearly all kinds, pickled eggs aren’t appealing to me. It seems like they would be too slimy on the outside. I don’t know anyone who eats them. Even worse is the fact that the grocery store displays them next to the jars of pickled pigs feet, and pickled turkey gizzards, which I would never eat. For me, this marketing strategy does not add to their appeal.

My mother used to make a couple of tasty supper dishes involving eggs: Creamed chipped beef (with chopped hard-boiled eggs in the sauce) on toast, and wieners and scrambled eggs, which was basically cut up wieners browned in butter in a skillet, and then beaten eggs added to the mixture.

I learned a lot about eggs from my Mom. She grew up in the 1930’s and 40’s on a dairy farm in east central Minnesota. Although cows were their livelihood, the family raised a moderate amount of chickens for food for their own family and to sell the surplus eggs. Theirs was a big family, and with the addition of “hired men” and frequent unexpected “drop-ins” for meals, a big bowl of scrambled eggs was often used as a last-minute “filler” when my Grandma discovered she would have more bodies seated at the table than she had initially projected. On the farm, the noontime meal was called “dinner” (versus the term lunch, which was never used) and the evening meal was called “supper.” Either meal was subject to an addition of scrambled eggs, if warranted by the circumstances…even though eggs of one preparation or another were served at nearly every breakfast. And despite the fact that my Mom consumed “hundred of pounds of eggs” during her childhood, she never tired of eating them prepared their various ways, and even now at age 80 eggs are among her favorite foods.

When I was in Australia for a couple weeks in 1995, I noted that the eggs I was served had much darker-colored yolks than the ones here where I live in the Midwest USA. I’m accustomed to yolks of a light orange hue. To my palate, the eggs in Australia tasted the same; they just looked different. I postulated it was due to the hens there eating different feed. Also, I was surprised to learn that people in Australia sometimes add a friend egg to the top of a hamburger! I had never heard of that.

One of the dozens of “on the stick” food items sold at the Minnesota State Fair are “Scotch Eggs” which are hard-boiled eggs coated in ground pork sausage, and then deep-fried…a sure-fire recipe for a coronary! I haven’t tried one yet.

I like to add a lot of chopped, hard-boiled egg to my potato salad, and I enjoy eating spinach salad with crisp bacon bits, sliced, hard-boiled eggs, sliced purple onion, and vinagrette.

Sometimes, one those rare occasions I feel like being nice to my husband, I will prepare a homemade “Egg McMuffin” for him for lunch, which is basically a scrambled egg, slice of Canadian bacon, and slice of American cheese on a toasted English muffin. I assemble the sandwich, wrapped it in foil, and bake for a few minutes to melt the cheese. He really likes the way I make them.

I think my all-time favorite ways to eat eggs are:

Eggs Benedict - A poached egg atop a toasted English muffin and Canadian bacon, with an egg-yolk sauce (Hollandaise) on top…what could be eggier?

Egg FooYoung - an oval-shaped “Chinese scrambled egg puffy pancake” of sorts

When I was in my 20’s, media reports claimed that eggs were “bad for you.” Many doctors recommended limiting egg intake to one or two per week. I’m happy that I was young enough back then to not “give a hoot” about such warnings. I continued to indulge in three-egg omelets and egg salad sandwiches whenever my little heart desired. In recent years, I have read newspaper articles saying that the “tide has turned” regarding eggs, and that now research indicates that a two-per-week-limit is not necessary to maintain good health.

On cold, winter nights I like to make rice pudding, which uses cooked rice, eggs, milk, sugar, almond extract and raisins. I think it’s one of the Top Ten Ultimate Comfort Foods! I believe the temperature where I live is low enough and the snow is deep enough for this to be on my docket for tonight.
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The New Year, And 01-01-2006 - 09:33 PM
I was inspired to write this list by another journaling site member. It’s my fifty-third birthday today and “time is of the essence” for those of us growing long-in-the-tooth. Better now than never!

My Grateful List - In no particular order:

1. I’m thankful that, throughout my life, I have been able to make friends easily. I suppose it helps that I’m friendly and have never been afraid of people. I got a birthday card two days ago from a friend I’ve had since I was thirteen and she moved to my little hometown. The photo image on the front depicts two “little old ladies” walking arm-in-arm along a sidewalk in a park. The inside of the card reads, “It’s nice knowing you have a friend who’ll be a friend forever.” In my opinion, there’s nothing richer in life than bonds like that.

2. I’m grateful to have been raised by parents who taught me to value education and who encouraged me to do my best in academic endeavors, ever since my first day of first grade. They always showed an interest in my teachers, courses, classmates, and school activities, and they helped with my homework and other scholastic projects. When I was young, we didn’t have the money for a dishwasher or automatic dryer in our house, but we had a set of encyclopedia.

3. I’m grateful that I was raised in a home environment free from prejudice towards those different than our family in regards to race, country of origin, religion, physical or intellectual ability, or sexual orientation. Because of my parents’ example, I have enjoyed life free of hatred and fear of those who are not the same as me.

4. I feel blessed to reside on a planet that is so rich with many thousands of animals, both domestic and wild; creatures that inhabit the air, water and land. I cannot imagine the sterile blandness of a world without these wondrous additions to enhance human life.

5. I appreciate the fact that I’m among the fortunate who have access to medical care -- knowledgeable and compassionate doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, which millions of the inhabitants of this earth must suffer without, because of their lack of access, availability or money to purchase the medicine they need to get better.

6. I’m lucky to have a spouse who exemplifies that which I treasure most in a partner: high ethics, admirable values, and compassion for others. He is 100 percent supportive of all my goals and endeavors. (If he wasn’t, I think it’s safe to say that he and I as a couple wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes!) He is among the most feminist of men I have ever met in my life. He is truly a treasure.

7. I feel fortunate that I can see, hear, speak, walk, eat and function normally. I’ve escaped major injuries and serous mishaps, in part from heeding good advice and practicing caution, and in part due to plain old luck.

8. I’m blessed to have a mother who, at age 80, is (probably!) healthier than I am. She is full of vibrancy and is a joy to everyone in her presence. I’m also thankful that my father lived in good health until age 80, and although he was terminally ill on his 81st birthday, he expressed his gratefulness for the life he had lived.

9. I’m thankful that for over a half-century of life, I have always had a place to live, enough food to eat, and clothes to keep me warm.

10. I’m grateful that, at age 53, I still feel capable. I feel strong. I feel that I still have a lot to give to the things in which I believe. I’m not close to letting up or shutting up. <Al Pacino voice from “Scent of a Woman“> “I’m just gettin’ started!”
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